The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) moved to unleash another massive tranche of mmWave spectrum for mobile service, as it approved an auction of airwaves in the 37, 39 and 47 GHz bands for the second half of 2019.

Commissioner Brendan Carr declared 2019 “the year of 5G,” noting the new auction plan will “result in more spectrum being auctioned in a single year than at any time in the commission’s history”.

The auction is the third in a series of mmWave proceedings scheduled by the FCC to open new airwaves for next generation services. A 28 GHz auction is currently underway, with a separate 24 GHz proceeding set to follow its close.

Bidding in the latest auction will be conducted in two stages: participants will make offers on general licences during an initial clock phase before vying for specific frequencies during an assignment phase.

The plan also includes provisions for incumbents in the 39 GHz band, giving them the option to bid on new spectrum assignments or relinquish their licences entirely in exchange for monetary compensation.

A total of 3400 MHz of licensed spectrum will be up for grabs, offered in 100 MHz blocks. That figure includes 2400 MHz of airwaves from 37.6 to 40 GHz, which the FCC noted is the largest contiguous swathe of mmWave spectrum offered to date.

An exact date for the proceeding was not set.

Messaging move

The commission also voted to classify SMS and MMS as information services rather than telecommunications services, a move which will legally allow operators to block text messages.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the decision would bolster operator efforts to prevent spam campaigns. However, Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel blasted the measure, warning it hands operators “the legal right to block your text messages and censor the very content of your messages.”

The vote was prompted by a 2015 request from mass messaging company Twilio to classify text messages as a telecommunications service, as part of a bid to prevent operators from blocking its service.